Monday, November 22, 2010
Playing It Safe
Forward: I have been holding onto this post for five days.
Praying... wondering... and thinking. A lot.
So after days spent in bed (with a nasty head cold), I finally feel released to share it.
Here it goes.....
I have been long in this journey....
Like so many of you, on this road of life I have encountered so many things.
Days when my faith is burgeoning... and days when it is waning.
So many days like a buoy on the ocean.... tossed back and forth.
Not really realizing that I've compromised my stand until I become aware of the ugliness inside of me seeping out into the areas of my life that are sacred... that are right... that I unknowingly pollute with my own selfish desires.
Finding myself at a distance from where I was before.
Something happened on Sunday...
Something that hasn't happened in a while... and I am disappointed at myself for admitting that.
In the middle of worship I felt it begin... a seed of knowing... a feeling that began to grow and then wane with my self doubt.
I began to beg God to show me absolutely, positively if I should move... if it was Him that I was sensing and His words that were pressing on my heart.
Or was it just me? Was it the emotion filled moment? Was it from knowledge that I possessed and wanted so desperately to help with?
I began to cry out in my heart... "Please Father... don't let me step out and fail."
Fail.... seems to be a big deal for me right now... maybe always.
And in an instant only known between He and I, I was sure... not of me... but of Him.
Banking on His faithfulness... on His love and mercy... and on His ability to cover any part of me that would seep out from what I felt was Him in me.
Although I am not confident in me... I am confident in Him.
I know my ability to be wrong.... I know it well.
He has taught me my faultiness without Him over and over.
And I am so thankful that He has.
With the reassurance of my knowledge of Him I stepped out... I placed one foot into the isle... knowing that going back now was not a choice I would make.
And with legs shaking and heart beating hard I tried to give what I felt welling up in me... pouring it out... from a place that I myself am walking in the midst of, and what I know my Father is wanting to break me of... break me through... and ultimately bring victory in.
I know that God has been asking me continually to let go.
Let go of myself... let go of my peace, knowing that He'll give me His... let go of my securities and my insecurities...
Of my resolutions... and my absolution's.
To trust Him in the midst of uncertainty.
How much do I really want more of Him?
How much am I willing to risk? To give?
How much am I willing to stand up for? Even at the cost of relationships... or comfort?
And how often have I missed the mark or just not done it for the sake of playing it safe?
There is something welling up from somewhere so deep within me that I can't even begin to describe it.
A feeling that the something bigger is right in front of me.
His call for me is not just a request anymore... it has become like a decree.
And I know that as I stand on the precipice of something greater than myself that it is going to cost me.
I feel it.
I can't explain the fear that I have been feeling.... and it's crazy in light of the fact that I have been praying for this very thing for so long.
Now that I am here... still not really knowing the details of this calling... I find that I am a little bit afraid.
I don't know if others are going to like it.
If the words that I speak will offend... will cause some to shrink back from me.
I don't want to be hated.
I don't even like being disliked.
I don't want to be thought of as something negative, or called names that I cringe at the mention of.
But this is where I stand. It is how I have always stood.
Trying to rack my brain and understand His standards of right and wrong.
Deciphering between the graces of God and the knowledge of how He views our sin.
And as I become more and more aware of our state I am more profoundly affected with the urgency to speak.
The lines have been blurred... and the differences have become shady.
The difference between Christian and non.
Am I willing to surrender all of it... all of the things that I hold close.... my need to be accepted... my desire to be loved... every single speck and detail of my well planned out and very comfortable life...
Am I willing to risk all of that to be true to who He's created me to be?
For what I am destined for?
Deep calling to deep.
Am I willing to risk it all for Him?
This has led me to so many thoughts the last few weeks... and even days since Sunday.
When His children are walking in the truths of His standards... in the light of His precepts... we are something special, and we are different. We should look different.
But when we are mirroring the world around us... trying hard to keep in sync and in step with those that we are not called to live like... we become disgruntled and confusing.
I feel that my time to step out is now.
When has there been a better time than the present in any one persons life?
No matter the generation... or the century... it has always been the now for the sake of the future that holds the most importance.
When we fail to take the moments that God has set before us and miss the opportunities that He has laid out, to reach out and love a world so desperate for healing, that we miss the very essence of what makes us His.
Has there been a person you walked by and knew... just knew that you were supposed to turn around and say something to ... knowing that all it would take is a few well said words to reassure them of God's love for them.
And have you like me... reasoned the "feeling" away, putting your head down and eyes straight forward shaking off the notion... because really, what would you say? And worse... what would they think if you actually brought up the name of God?
I have had these moments so many times.
Wondered on end at what could have happened had I listened... and obeyed.
The moments I have dreaded the most are with those ones that I belong to.
Saying what needs saying to someone I don't know is hard... but it is so much easier than those that I know... even those that I love.
Especially when those words are hard ones... not fluffy or feel good.
I don't want to offend.
I know that I am not much different than them...
But His word has become increasingly louder.
And if we continue to ignore it, I fear more than my own petty concerns, facing His judgments.
God is gracious and merciful.
Slow to anger and abounding in love.
But He is a righteous God.
A just God.
I would be only telling a half truth if I only spoke to the things that made us all feel "good".
We are a people... a nation... a world... who have come dangerously close to forgetting Him completely in everything that we do.
Excluding Him in some things and inviting Him in where we find room. Where we feel comfortable with Him to be.
Calling it progressive... and outreaching... yet neglecting the very essence of Who He Is.
How can we praise Him with our lips but not serve Him with everything else? Only giving Him what feels okay to give and reserving our right to reject what doesn't look or seem right to us.
We have tried to give Him our agendas and asked that He not disturb or disrupt it too much so that it won't get "messy".
If we continue to plow this particular road things will get messier than we can imagine.
Neglecting God and allowing Him to move, limits what He wants to do.
But be mindful... He is God... and He will not be ignored or neglected.
It is throughout His Word. Over and over.
History of a chosen generation.... a people called by His name... that choose their ways over His.
And the end result is always the same.
I don't mean for this to sound gloom and doom... not at all.
In fact the hope that I hold out for is so easily accessible that it makes me ashamed to think that we have convoluted it so much.
But I honestly believe that He is calling us to a place of honest and sincere repentance.
And to just make sure that I am clear... I am referring to us. His people.
We need to rush to the place of examining our lives through the sifter of His Word.
To understand who we are... and Who He Is.
And in the light of that, allow Him to change us.
Do we want to be truly His?
Do we want to have His heart for a lost and dieing world?
Are we willing to let Him "disrupt" our church services... call us to love on people that we don't necessarily see as worthy of that love?
Are we willing to risk offending to speak out the truth so that light can shine on the lies that we have bought?
Are we even willing to stand for that truth in our own churches? In the places that we know are supposed to be the beacons of light of that truth?
Or do we want to just conduct our business as usual?
Clock in our time... fill our pews and smile at our numbers...and just press on our buttons of forgiveness?
My husband used to tell our youth group this...
"There is more to salvation that a get out of hell free card. What do you think the more is?"
He left them with that one many times...
I am left with that one myself right now.
Who are we as a people?
As the people of God?
Are we really affecting the world around us? And how are we made different from them?
How are we being different from them?
Or is Christian just a title that we place on our profiles to make us sound good.
Are we really motivated to see the changes of God and the move of God to rise?
We can't even begin to see those changes happen without hitting our knees, putting our faces to the floor, and getting our hearts right before Him first.
Admitting that we don't know it all... and that we don't hold all the answers.
Like the temple of old... we are called to be sacred and holy....
Set apart like a beacon of hope and light in a dark place.
It does take everything... all our effort... all our time... and all of our hearts.
I've always wondered why other "religions" and false doctrines can require and demand complete obedience and passion.. and get it... even to the point of extremism and wrong thinking... and we as Christians struggle to stay faithful to the One that we know is the only way. The only truth. And the only life there is to live.
I have to think that it is because we falter in believing it at all.
His way is contrary to all the others.
His way speaks life... and not death.
Truth... and not lies.
Joy... and not sorrow.
Peace... and not fear.
Hope... and not uncertainty.
Why are not more of us standing?... But disregarding those who are even now laboring in the deepest forms of love for our Savior... risking it all... giving it all... and not playing it safe for even a minute of their lives... displaying what true passion for God looks like.
Why do we balk at speaking out to a stranger about God's love for them... or harder yet.. tell a brother or sister in Christ that acting like the world is unacceptable... when others of our brothers and sisters are dieing for their faith. Willing to lose everything to serve and love God with everything that they have.
And willing to love Him with everything that they are.
I am left speechless.
Forgive us for making it okay to do the things that our flesh cries out to do. And for making up our feeble excuses for doing it. Knowing that it is our own foolishness of not knowing Your Word that leads us to a place of deception. Being self reliant and not fully relying on You for all things.
Forgive us for choosing whats easy. For neglecting to teach our children to fear and revere You even in the very public places...
Forgive us for allowing those around us to dictate what is deemed acceptable instead of measuring every action, word, and deed by the standard of Your Word. For conforming to this world instead of standing out as the standard to be measured by.
Forgive us Father for not truly understanding and realizing just how deep Your love is for us...
Because if we did... if we really knew... then we would be a people that would shine brighter than the world around us.
We would be a people more confident in Who our God is.
And we would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what Your Word says is true.. it is alive... and it has the power to change and move nations.
We would be different.
We would look different.
Thank You Father for those in my life who have been unwilling to play it safe.
Who have been willing to sacrifice their time... their energy... and their lives to model what it looks like to serve You.
And thank You Father for those that continue to speak truth into my life... even the hard truths. Your truth that doesn't diminish or change... but has stayed the same from the beginning of time.
Help us to see You... seek You... and cry out for You like we never have before.
Work in us... change us Oh God... that we might be a people worthy of Your name.
A people of hope.
A people of love.
And a people who know Who their God Is.
I have taken my toes from the shore...
Father keep me tight to You as I wade into Your waters.
... until another tomorrow.
“This is what the LORD says—
Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;
apart from me there is no God." Isaiah 4:6
1-2 "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
3I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him." Romans 12:1-3 The Message Bible
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus," Titus 2:11-13
“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”